This Sher.ly Q&A is based on the numerous interviews and questions we’ve received so far. Yet before we start, here’s Sher.ly explained in just 73 seconds: https://vimeo.com/80363149.
Blazej Marciniak, Sher.ly’s CEO has prepared this Q&A to provide you with a more in-depth view of what exactly Sher.ly is and what it does.
Q: What is Sher.ly?
Sher.ly is a software, which allows teams to efficiently and securely collaborate and share data using their own storage.
It’s like a supercharged Dropbox, OneDrive, Box or Google Drive running privately from your own hard drive and securely behind your firewall. Any folder you’ve got can be shared with the people you invite; they can contribute data to groups of users as well.
You do not upload the data from anywhere, because there is no remote “cloud” – your local cloud is created from all your computers and your members’ storage capacity.
Sher.ly virtual hard drive composed from all members’ data and storage devices. Or like a huge, invisible USB drive that’s always ready, always connected.
Q: So, Sher.ly does not send data to the cloud? What happens when I turn off my computer, it goes offline or is set to sleep?
We’ve thought of a machine going offline and that’s why we’re developing Sher.ly for independent storage devices such as NAS, server-based storage, SANs, and even RaspberryPI.
NAS, for example, is a great option to start with: it represents a one-time investment. The same capacity from a cloud provider will set you back around the same every month. Sher.ly works with the external storage in a seamless way. Once you add a storage device to your Sher.ly account, it will be your storage “shadow”: you’ll then be able to sync any data you add to your devices, working as backup, keep your older file versions and share any data you’ve shared providing continuous online data presence.
Once we support mobile, you will be able to use the tablet Sher.ly app to share data you don’t have with you and you will be able to access any data shared to you within your group.
Q: Does Sher.ly use my Internet connection for sharing with my team?
Yes. The business users we’re focusing on generally have no problem getting symmetrical Internet access. Usually upload bandwidth is 1/10th of download bandwidth, which means that a high upload rate shouldn’t affect performance when working online.
Q: How does the Sher.ly technology exactly work?
Sher.ly is based on the secure connectivity technology we are developing since 2009. It’s a combination of secure VPN connectivity with peer to peer topology we call GatelessVPN. It means the technology doesn’t relay all traffic to potentially insecure central servers, but communicates through other secure nodes. It’s similar to using the Internet over Skype-like network.
This new approach brings a big promise of solving security, performance and scalability problems inherent in many cloud systems. Think of sher.ly as creating a VPN connection to any folder or file you want to access or share.
Q: How is Sher.ly different from other cloud services?
We provide a secure access to data without putting your private information on the Internet. Compared to Dropbox and other similar services we provide secure access to all files, not just those that are synced.
Sher.ly is not a Dropbox clone. It’s a private alternative. And here are the qualities that make our product shine:
Difference #1: Security
In the public cloud you can never tell who has the access to your data and what are they doing with it. The public cloud service tells its users: “Just give me all your data and we will give you sync and data management.”
After that the NSA pays the US cloud providers a visit and says: “Give me all your customer data or go to jail for treason.” – as Marissa Mayer frankly puts it, when asked how is Yahoo dealing with this problem.
Sync in the cloud isn’t safe for sharing: any malicious data deletion on one account can be multiplied dozens if not hundreds of times by the dumb sync mechanism, effectively excluding dozens of people from their work and wreaking havoc. Data can be restored from the cloud, but it’s plenty of IT slog, not mentioning the lost time you cannot get back.
Sher.ly separates control of the data from the data itself.
We say: “I do not want your data, take my software and manage your data by yourself.” We limit the data circulation to a minimum, thereby reducing the risk of data leak.
We keep your data where it’s safest: on your very own storage. The encryption is done at the protocol level; data is encrypted on the endpoint and on transit. Additionally, we’re strengthening the secure use by BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): i.e. the secure “leasing” of your data to employees and external contractors with their own devices, without losing control over the shared data.
The data owner can revoke access at any time or remotely delete data from a misplaced or stolen device directly from the Sher.ly app without asking for any assistance from the IT.
Since we do not use sync as the default behavior, nobody can delete data shared by you: neither accidentally nor willingly.
Ensuring security is a process, not just a feature; we also know that it can drive in the opposite direction away from convenience and ease of use – to reconcile these conflicting requirements is one of the challenges we are confident we can overcome.
Difference #2: Storage.
To us it always felt wrong to pay for online data storage while we all have plenty of storage at the office or at home. It’s a matter of using it effectively, a software task. Sher.ly lets you use your own storage in a much more efficient way: i.e. as a local cloud. Sher.ly connects all your storage resources into a one, coherent cloud file system.
Our goal is to create a new access paradigm for our data: one that’s persistent, secure, and location-independent. We provide a secure access to all the data, ending vicious circle of synchronization, which doesn’t make sense when everyone is mobile and is using their own devices (BYOD).
We want to give files freedom like mobile phones so the data is always available where needed, regardless of physical location while being completely secured.
It’s way easier to go with friends to the zoo to see the elephant than bring an elephant to each of your friends’ houses. Sher.ly does not send your data anywhere; it enables secure access to data for the people you invite.
Difference #3: Speed.
Current protocols used to transmit data across the network such as CIFS/SAMBA or aren’t that “current”: they haven’t changed fundamentally in almost 20 years and their performance remains highly limited.
Let’s do a simple test: do two computers connected over a Gigabit Ethernet network transmit data with such speed? Nope, barely half of that: ~50% of the network speed is working.
Sher.ly Beta under the same scenario can utilize 94% of the network bandwidth: more than 940Mb/s in real data traffic. Sher.ly put’s your storage and your network to work without limitations leveraging protocols 20x faster than the CIFS/SMB protocols.
Difference #4: Simplicity
Q: People often use cloud as backup. If my Sher.ly computer fails do I lose my data?
BM: If you are a tough guy not doing backups, then yes; the data kept in one copy can be easily lost to a number of reasons. But the cloud is not a good place for backup – Mat Honan from Wired learned it the hard way: a social engineering attack on his iCloud account caused him to lose everything: a two-year data archive was lost.
In the event of a storage failure or attack you need to immediately recover all the data from the backup. And downloading tens of GB backup from the Internet will more than some time. I used Sher.ly in a similar situation: when my laptop was stolen I borrowed another and needed less than hour to restore the data from my local backup and get back to work.
Sher.ly has these scenarios covered: we propose a local Sher.ly enabled NAS backup with a remote synced copy stored offsite.
Q: I am a user of Dropbox/SkyDrive/SugarSync/Google Drive. How would you convince me to switch to Sher.ly?
We think those services are great. We just don’t think they are secure enough for business or many users. We think they are expensive, inefficient and lack the controls needed to do business. And we don’t think they do much for businesses with mobile users all over the world. Sher.ly is an alternative we think business will consider. We are betting our business on it
Q: What is Sher.ly’s business model?
SaaS. We want to create software and license it to the business users.
Nobody talks about “life in the cloud” anymore and Gartner prophesies the future of the hybrid cloud and over 3bln USD cloud services market security in 2015. And that’s the place we’d love to be in.
If you share our dream, we’re always looking for great people to expand our team, if you know Qt, C++, and secure data transfer protocols, just e-mail us at jobs (at) sher.ly.
Q: Is Sher.ly is a genuine threat to the cloud businesses like Dropbox?
Sher.ly is disruptive for public storage services business model. Others take all user data and charge for cloud space – we don’t.
There is no “status quo” online. The history of the Internet is full of bloated businesses, which believed in their lasting size, causing their own defeat.
We want to show people that they don’t have to send their data to anyone and still be able to use it in a secure, local cloud.
We are funded, Sher.ly project is backed by two VC’s in Poland and we are in the process or moving our business operations to Silicon Valley, because we’ve got a lot of business opportunities there.
We’ve launched Sher.ly into Public Beta at TechCrunch Disrupt conference in Berlin:
We had great time there, attended dozens of meetings and established valuable contacts. Within just 2 days more than 700 people have signed up for Sher.ly. The Disrupt’s juror comment was very gratifying: “This is probably the least sexy presentation that we have seen today, but your technology has a huge potential and solves a real problem for many businesses.”
Plus, we are a finalist of Tech Match InSight2030 program, organized by the Polish Ministry of Economy in cooperation with US Partners.
We are moving very fast, so stay tuned!
Finally, you can reach us at hello (at) sher.ly or tweet @sherlyfiles.
Thanks for reading & let me know if you’d like to know more!
14 Jun, 2017
19 May, 2017